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Approximately 480,000 people die from smoking-related diseases every year in the United States. The good news is that it’s never too late to quit, even if you’ve been smoking for a long time. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that quitting before the age of 40 reduces your risk of death linked to continued tobacco use by about 90 percent. In addition, the article emphasized that the earlier you quit, the better chances you have at living a long, healthy life.
Quitting smoking can add years back to your life and lower your risk of #LungCancer and other diseases. Learn more from oncologist Dr. Ankit Madan on the #MedStarHealthBlog: https://bit.ly/3xJpaJt.Click to Tweet
If you’re a smoker or the loved one of someone who smokes, knowing the short and long-term benefits of smoking cessation may help to motivate you to seek help. Fortunately, it’s never too late to kick the habit for good and potentially save your life.
Smoking cessation reduces your risk of lung cancer and other smoking-related illnesses.
Do you know that cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer? In fact, 90 percent of lung cancers are caused by smoking. The more you smoke, the higher your cancer risk is, but there’s always time to decrease your tobacco use or quit altogether. Even if you’ve been smoking for more than 15 years, you can lower your risk of developing lung cancer over the next few years by up to 40 percent if you quit today.
In addition to lung cancer, tobacco use is a risk factor for several other cancers, including oral or mouth cancer, stomach cancer, and more. It’s also closely linked to cardiovascular disease, stroke, and lung problems, such as emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Fortunately, kicking the habit can make you healthier, slow down the progression of any existing tobacco-related disease in your organs, and reduce your risk of developing these diseases in the future.
Quitting smoking offers numerous other financial, social, and physical benefits.
In addition to helping you live longer, quitting smoking can increase your quality of life. Smoking cessation has several other benefits, including:
- Improved exercise tolerance
- Less spending
- Lower health insurance premiums
- Enhanced sense of smell and taste
In addition, refraining from smoking helps to protect others, including your spouse, kids, extended family members, and peers. Secondhand smoke is also linked to lung cancer and other health conditions, so eliminating tobacco exposure to your loved ones can help to keep them healthy as well.
There are several treatment options that can help you quit smoking.
If you want to quit smoking, a primary care provider is the best partner for supporting, encouraging, and equipping you with the education and tools you need to stick with smoking cessation. Treatment options include medications that curb cravings and nicotine replacements that lower your dependency on cigarettes. Perhaps the best one either alone or in combination with medication or nicotine replacements is behavior therapy, which helps you identify and address the triggers that propel you towards cigarettes in the first place.
Continuous follow-up care with your doctor is important and perhaps the greatest predictor of long-term smoking cessation success. It’s common for people who smoke to relapse four to five times before quitting forever, and having a trusted healthcare partner to continue encouraging and supporting you is instrumental in maintaining your abstinence from cigarettes.
In addition to seeking help from your family doctor, community resources can also help you quit. A nationwide quitline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, is available to connect people who smoke with trained coaches who can help them develop personalized quit plans. You can also find local resources for smoking cessation through the county where you live. It doesn’t matter where you seek help, as long as you do. The most important thing to know is that you don’t have to do it alone.
Don’t delay quitting.
The aforementioned study in the New England Journal, 21st-Century Hazards of Smoking and Benefits of Cessation in the United States, found that non-smokers outlived those who smoke by nearly ten years. But even those who quit before the age of 34 could possibly regain that decade of life, and:
- Those who quit between the ages of 36 and 44 could potentially add up to nine years to their life.
- Those who quit between the ages of 44 and 54 could potentially add up to six years to their life.
If you have a significant smoking history, a primary care physician can help you determine if you qualify for a life-saving lung cancer screening. These screenings use low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) imaging to detect early signs of lung cancer when it is easily treated through surgery. This is critical to finding a cure for lung cancer. Screening is generally recommended for those who:
- Are between 50 and 80 years old, AND
- Have a 20-pack years smoking history, AND
- Currently smoke or quit smoking within the past 15 years
Ultimately, stopping smoking can save your life. And the earlier you quit, the greater opportunity you have to live longer. If you’re ready to quit smoking, your primary care doctor can help. Even if you feel like you’ve tried everything, talk to a provider who will listen and get you the personalized support you need.